In a sustaining initiative to expedite safe and speedy travels of seafarers, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. announced the Philippines Green Lane that aims to serve as a guide to all the entities that are involved in opening doors for the seafarers travelling for repatriation and crew change, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This includes all airlines, shipping companies, and manning agencies as stakeholders, working towards sailors all over the world.
The signing ceremony of the Interagency Joint Circular of Green Lanes marked this move as a timely humanitarian relief that aimed to the re-entry of seafarers into the economy and to ensure the maintenance of global supply chains.
The framework of the PHL Green Lane goes in line with the requests of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to address the situation of the worlds’ seafarers, mentioned the Secretary.
The guide sets the protocol for standard process flows regarding the travel, disembarkation, and crew change of the seafarers that work in cargo ships, cruise liners, bulk carriers, product tankers, tugboats, and various other vessels around the world.
The Philippines, being a maritime nation produces over 280,000 graduates from maritime institutions each year. The employment of Filipinos as seamen stand first worldwide, thus playing a significant role in contributing to billions of dollars to the economy. The COVID-19 pandemic, having created huge losses to trade and employment during the last few months has led to the realization of the importance of shipping in trade worldwide.
Almost 100,000 ships carry 95% of the world trade. This is operated by more than a million seafarers, a good number of them, 378,000, being Filipinos. The European Union (EU) has a marked “preference for Filipino mariners and pays them top euro”, stated Secretary Locsin.
The IMO has laid emphasis and requested governments to grant appropriate exemptions from national travel and restriction for sailors and allow them to join ships. It also added that professional marine personnel is designated the titles of “key worker”, providing essential service.